LA CROSSE, WI – Now that’s how you end a losing streak.
The Larks finally got back in the win column with a victory over La Crosse on Tuesday night. Ten hits turned into 11 runs in the 11-8 victory.
Looking to end their six-game skid, the Larks turned to JC Bonilla as he made just his second start of the season. Bonilla gave his team everything he had despite a difficult start.
The Loggers picked up right where they left off Monday. In the first inning, Kennie Taylor walked to start things off, and a balk moved him to second base.
Garrett Christman then grounded a ball sharply to Jeff Mayes at second base. After a short bobble, Mayes’ throw was out of the reach of Newt Johnson at first.
Taylor scored on the play, and Luke Horanski’s throw to Bonilla covering the plate got away as well, moving Christman to second. In total, the play resulted in three errors for the Larks.
Two more runs would score later in the inning on a Jeremy Ydens double, giving the Loggers and early 3-0 lead.
Not an ideal start to a ballgame.
In the third, the Loggers added a run after a Korey Lee single got through the hole between third and shortstop. Wyatt Ulrich’s throw to third bounced away after hitting the runner Jake Hirabayashi, allowing him to advance and score.
It was early, but the Larks looked to be on the fast track to a winless road trip.
Not to be done in so easily, the Larks offense showed some life in the fourth inning. Luke Waldek blasted a three-run home run to left field with two outs, making it 4-3 Loggers.
Waldek’s third long ball of the year flipped a switch. Suddenly, the Larks were energized for the first time since the Waterloo series.
The birds weren’t done. Noah Sadler walked and Philip Jacobson doubled to left to bring him home and tie the game at four. The double chased La Crosse starter Ryan Anderson from the game after just 3.2 innings.
The offense kept it up. They loaded the bases in the top of the fifth and chased reliever Andrew Owen. Jason Seever came in and walked Waldek after a long at-bat to score Johnson, putting the Larks up 5-4 and giving them their first lead of the series.
Bonilla, the regular reliever, hit the end of his rope in the bottom of the fifth. He allowed two base runners to get on with one out before giving way to Joe Spradlin. Spradlin got Lee to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Bonilla went through 4.1 and allowed just two hits and four runs, none of which were earned. The only problem was the six walks compared to just one strikeout.
The Larks kept at it with the sticks. They loaded the bases with one out yet again in the sixth, setting up a Scooter Bynum RBI on an E6 and a Brandon Lankford sac fly to go up 7-4.
In the seventh, Waldek led the charge again with a solo homer to lead off the inning for his second of the game and his fifth RBI. Waldek entered the game with just two home runs on the season.
More runs followed. Four runs scored in the inning on five hits to put the Larks up 11-4.
The Loggers added a pair of late runs in the eighth on a Ryan Mantle home run and got two more runs in the ninth on two hits, but the Larks held on to get back in the win column.
Spradlin was solid out of the bullpen. He threw 3.2 innings of solid baseball and allowed just four hits. Two of his three earned runs came home on the Mantle home run, and the other was Christman who walked to lead off the ninth. Spradlin was pulled for Chris Roycroft after the walk. Roycroft surrendered a pair of hits in the inning but was able to get the three outs to complete the win.
Waldek’s two homers doubled his season total and also reserved his place in the record books. He is the first Larks player ever to have a multi-homer game.
Getting out of a funk is never easy. After the heartbreaker in Waterloo and the lopsided loss on Monday in La Crosse, it would have been easy for the Larks to abandon all hope. Waldek’s first homer gave them the energy to compete again. Maybe the win will give them the boost they need to finish the season on a high note.
Next up for the Larks is an off day before the final 10 games of the season. The Birds will play next on Thursday, August 3, at 7:05 pm in Bismarck versus the Rochester Honkers.
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The Bismarck Larks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.bismarcklarks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Larks as your favorite team.